Author Topic: Head pressure during and after Meditation  (Read 984 times)

Kisen

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Mantra Meditation
Head pressure during and after Meditation
« on: April 24, 2017, 09:46:13 PM »
Hello everyone!

For a few months now, I have been getting immense pressure in my head, similar to what you get when you have a lot of muscle tension, during meditation.

I typically use mantra meditation (say it mentally) and I find that when I try to focus on it, I get pressure on the point I am focusing on. This is typically my forehead or eyes (right under my eyes)

I have tried thinking the mantra in all sorts of ways since I think that mental focus not should require physical force but I cannot seem to find a way to be able to do this for some reason. As a result I don't know what is the difference between effort and effortless focus.

I have tried other techniques but they all seem to cause pressure with varying degrees of intensity and I also notice that as soon as I start to focus I subconsciously hold my breath. After the meditation I rarely ever feel refreshed, regardless if I let the tension go or not.

Only way I found to minimise it is to visualise something so I am not focused on the body.

Can anyone share some advice please?

I have come to the point where I almost feel like giving up since I find it hard to keep going if it makes my life worse.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 09:48:37 PM by Kisen »

Middleway

  • Moderator
  • Now is beautiful
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 12:27:53 AM »
I think you are trying too hard on focusing part. I do get a similar "knot" in my brain when I concentrate too much on one point (in the body). When I realize that, I bring my focus of attention into the "head" or in front of the eyes (closed) and the knot dissipates.

I suggest you mentally say the mantra in conjunction with exhaling. Observe the length of the breath (exhaling) and time your mantra accordingly. You start the mantra as you start exhaling and end the mantra when you end exhaling. Rest the mind (quiet) when inhaling and start mantra again when you start exhaling. This does not work if the mantra is any longer than "aum" for example. Your eyes should be focused in front of your face (eyes closed).

I recommend that you drop the mantra meditation if the headache continues, and try the instructions on this website.

Welcome to the forum.

Middleway
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2017, 07:16:07 AM »
There could be a number of causes for this, unresolved life issues, a tendency to try to focus too hard, worries about whether you're meditating right, and often most ironically the desire to rid yourself of the sensation altogether often makes it more intense.

The way forward that works for me is to concentrate on being kind to yourself, and to relax yourself rather than get caught up on trying to attain or do anything in specific.

Kisen

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Mantra Meditation
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2017, 08:29:40 AM »
I think you are trying too hard on focusing part. I do get a similar "knot" in my brain when I concentrate too much on one point (in the body). When I realize that, I bring my focus of attention into the "head" or in front of the eyes (closed) and the knot dissipates.

I suggest you mentally say the mantra in conjunction with exhaling. Observe the length of the breath (exhaling) and time your mantra accordingly. You start the mantra as you start exhaling and end the mantra when you end exhaling. Rest the mind (quiet) when inhaling and start mantra again when you start exhaling. This does not work if the mantra is any longer than "aum" for example. Your eyes should be focused in front of your face (eyes closed).

I recommend that you drop the mantra meditation if the headache continues, and try the instructions on this website.

Welcome to the forum.

Middleway

Thank you the welcome and reply!

When you mention focusing in front of the eyes, do you mean with your mind? The reason I ask is when I try to focus in the "blackness" my forehead tension goes away but my eyes start complaining instead. It seems like my eyes do not want to relax since they either want to cross or try to go inside my head (leading to strain at the very upper part of the cheek).

Other techniques help but I still feel a certain degree of pressure wherever I apply my attention/focus to.

There could be a number of causes for this, unresolved life issues, a tendency to try to focus too hard, worries about whether you're meditating right, and often most ironically the desire to rid yourself of the sensation altogether often makes it more intense.

The way forward that works for me is to concentrate on being kind to yourself, and to relax yourself rather than get caught up on trying to attain or do anything in specific.

I can temporarily relieve it by basically letting it go and keep doing what I am doing and eventually reach a state of calm but it feels like I'm beating my mind into submission and even after the session, my head feels a bit...tight (but much calmer).

Problem is I do not know what it means not to focus too hard due to the issue of pressure wherever I place my attention which leads to the issues you mentioned about doubts of doing it right.

Thank you!

Middleway

  • Moderator
  • Now is beautiful
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 11:59:39 PM »
You are certainly over exerting your effort on concentration. Just relax and let the mind wander. When you notice that your mind wandered, bring your attention back to breath or any part of the body where you feel breathing sensations. The nature of the mind is to move. It constantly modifies itself and fluctuates like a flame in the wind. You are trying to hold the flame and trying to keep it still. When the mind does not move, it rebels and causes a headache. So, we should try and stop the wind. The wind in this case is craving and attachment of the mind to sense objects. For now, develop mindfulness by repeatedly bringing the moving mind back to breathing sensations but still let it move around the body. Sometimes, you can focus on rise and fall of the chest or belly, or sometimes on the tightening sensations as you reach the end of inhalation etc. Practice this way for a few days to strengthen/develop/establish mindfulness. Hope this helps.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Kisen

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Mantra Meditation
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2017, 08:33:35 AM »
You are certainly over exerting your effort on concentration. Just relax and let the mind wander. When you notice that your mind wandered, bring your attention back to breath or any part of the body where you feel breathing sensations. The nature of the mind is to move. It constantly modifies itself and fluctuates like a flame in the wind. You are trying to hold the flame and trying to keep it still. When the mind does not move, it rebels and causes a headache. So, we should try and stop the wind. The wind in this case is craving and attachment of the mind to sense objects. For now, develop mindfulness by repeatedly bringing the moving mind back to breathing sensations but still let it move around the body. Sometimes, you can focus on rise and fall of the chest or belly, or sometimes on the tightening sensations as you reach the end of inhalation etc. Practice this way for a few days to strengthen/develop/establish mindfulness. Hope this helps.

Your advice was most helpful, thank you!

I will follow your advice and practice mindfulness. I tried it once so far and it seems I have developed a habit of "nudging" the mind to move around the body rather than letting it move by itself so I will have to get used to effortlessness (and be careful not to TRY to be effortless).

A question: When I feel tightening around the head such as the forehead, do I let my attention rest on the tightness or do I acknowledge it then return to the breath? It seems that it gets stronger if I let my attention there. Also, my eyes appear to have a hard time relaxing and I feel a strong pressure right under the eyes (upper cheek?) as if they are trying to sink into my head. Should I just let it go or is it an error on my end?

Thank you very much!

Middleway

  • Moderator
  • Now is beautiful
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2017, 01:56:11 AM »
A question: When I feel tightening around the head such as the forehead, do I let my attention rest on the tightness or do I acknowledge it then return to the breath? It seems that it gets stronger if I let my attention there. Also, my eyes appear to have a hard time relaxing and I feel a strong pressure right under the eyes (upper cheek?) as if they are trying to sink into my head. Should I just let it go or is it an error on my end?
Acknowledge and return to the breathing sensations anywhere in the body like we discussed before. Try slightly looking down (eyes closed). That position works best for me. You could leave your eyes open too in that position. Its good that you are able to notice your mind craving for perfection. When you notice that craving, you should acknowledge and return back to breathing sensations. This is how you stop the wind (craving/attachment) to steady the mind. 
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

LoneWolf

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Vipassana (Goenka)
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2017, 04:28:12 AM »
Hi Kisen!

There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps the pressure is always there but you are becoming more aware of it. Perhaps you are focusing too hard. Do you always have this pressure? Or is it only when you meditate?

I think there are two things you can do. One is to find a meditation teacher, or someone experienced in meditation who you trust. You could work with them and they could give you their perspective.

The other thing you could do is temporarily try a different technique of meditation. For me, I practice Vipassana. In the technique I learned, you observe physical sensations with equanimity. Basically, you just observe the sensation with the intention not to react to it, but just to feel it. You could try to focus your attention on the pressure, just trying to feel it. Saying to yourself, it is okay. I will just feel it. You might find that as soon as you do that, the pressure goes away. But it may return, and that is the time to remember to feel it with equanimity. You can look up a Vipassana technique.

P.S. I noticed you said you have a strong pressure under your eyes. If you like, you can also try ruling out a physical reason. For example, many people have something similar when their upper neck vertebrae are out of place, when their glasses/contacts are not matching their eyesight or when they have sinus problems (do you have allergies?)

Kisen

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Mantra Meditation
Re: Head pressure during and after Meditation
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2017, 08:31:21 AM »
A question: When I feel tightening around the head such as the forehead, do I let my attention rest on the tightness or do I acknowledge it then return to the breath? It seems that it gets stronger if I let my attention there. Also, my eyes appear to have a hard time relaxing and I feel a strong pressure right under the eyes (upper cheek?) as if they are trying to sink into my head. Should I just let it go or is it an error on my end?
Acknowledge and return to the breathing sensations anywhere in the body like we discussed before. Try slightly looking down (eyes closed). That position works best for me. You could leave your eyes open too in that position. Its good that you are able to notice your mind craving for perfection. When you notice that craving, you should acknowledge and return back to breathing sensations. This is how you stop the wind (craving/attachment) to steady the mind.

Thank you, I will try and follow your advice!

Regarding acknowledgement of the craving, that is something which I am sometimes not even aware of. For example, I notice that I start with the meditation with the anticipation of the tension and I end up with the whole meditation session being frustrated. I have sometimes just abruptly ended a meditation session with frustration/anger (bad idea). The best sessions have been whenever I meditated with the sensations in being there and eventually they will disappear on their own.

Sometimes (but rather rare) I would achieve a state of joy/euphoria and the tension would completely disappear for a few hours. Despite my frustrations, I am still stubborn enough to sit and try again hoping I can find the cause.

Hi Kisen!

There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps the pressure is always there but you are becoming more aware of it. Perhaps you are focusing too hard. Do you always have this pressure? Or is it only when you meditate?

I think there are two things you can do. One is to find a meditation teacher, or someone experienced in meditation who you trust. You could work with them and they could give you their perspective.

The other thing you could do is temporarily try a different technique of meditation. For me, I practice Vipassana. In the technique I learned, you observe physical sensations with equanimity. Basically, you just observe the sensation with the intention not to react to it, but just to feel it. You could try to focus your attention on the pressure, just trying to feel it. Saying to yourself, it is okay. I will just feel it. You might find that as soon as you do that, the pressure goes away. But it may return, and that is the time to remember to feel it with equanimity. You can look up a Vipassana technique.

P.S. I noticed you said you have a strong pressure under your eyes. If you like, you can also try ruling out a physical reason. For example, many people have something similar when their upper neck vertebrae are out of place, when their glasses/contacts are not matching their eyesight or when they have sinus problems (do you have allergies?)

Thank you for the reply!

I noticed this pressure about 6 months ago in my daily life, mostly in my forehead area, usually made worse by fatigue or sitting in front of screens for a long time (I work in IT).

Interesting that you mention about becoming aware of it as I do not feel it if my mind is distracted and I can feel it immensely when I bring full conscious awareness of my face. As my point of focus/attention is usually my eyes/forehead area, it makes the problem much worse.

One time, I tried focusing on the pressure instead of trying to resist it and all of a sudden it just completely disappeared and felt like I was floating blissfully. I had thought that I had solved the issue but it didn't work (expectations).

Only times I can rid myself of the tension is when I can let go enough that I enter this quiet and peaceful state which leads me to believe that when I used the pressure as an object of meditation without judgment, it disappeared. I will try and be more accepting of the pressure.

Regarding physical causes, when I mentioned it to my doctor he just pointed to anxiety. A year ago I had suffered from many panic attacks and my anxiety increased in general. The peak of the pressure is usually when I am having sad or fearful thoughts and I am resisting them.

Cannot say anything regarding neck problems even though I have thought about it except for the fact that the chair I sit down on is rather uncomfortable/painful for my upper back and causes some slouching. I have also changed my glasses recently but I do have allergy issues mostly everyday so that is another potential cause. However, I can relieve the pressure from that point when I try to focus on the darkness in front of my eyes but that causes pain at the top of the nose.

The strange thing is that it mostly goes away when I manage to reach the state I mentioned before which makes me think it is more likely a mental issue.

Thank you!

« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 08:38:00 AM by Kisen »